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Page 65


“Who?”

“Who what, boss?”

“The men in Athens. Who were they?”

“Marcus, Niko, Gino, and Anthony.”

He nodded. “Continue.”

Cut hesitated as if he didn’t want to share the next part. “Oia…that was bad, boss. Gina nabbed Roth. In France, I think. She had him snatched, and then sent Alec to take care of Roth’s girl, only the girl got away, and someone helped her get away. Someone very good. Yevgeny, Kiril, and Tomas were all killed in Marseilles. They stashed the girl with Henri, and Gina sent some men after her. Henri got them. She sent more men after Henri later. Burned his bar. Tried to kill him.” Cut hesitated. “That did not go well, either. Tino, Vasily, Micha, Stefano. All dead at Henri’s hand. Henri was at the fortress, too.”

“Foolish girl. I warned everyone to stay away from Henri. He was to be left alone.”

Cut nodded. “I know. She did not listen, obviously.” He blew out a breath and then waved a hand, continuing. “Gina…was into some pretty nasty shit. You know that. Well, she had Roth chained to a bed in the Oia house for three days. The girl, the one Gina had in the cellar, with the shaved head? She and another guy stormed Oia, blew the gates off, rescued Roth, and got away. Big mess. Gina covered it up, though. Kept you from finding out till she had the gate and the wall fixed, took care of the bodies, made sure no one would rat her out to you. She obviously wanted this kept quiet, right? She knew you would put a stop to it.”

“I told her, I fucking told her to let him go.” An irritated sweep of a hand through his hair accentuated his words. “Forget him, I said. Roth did not worry me. I knew he was planning to vanish, and I let him. He was a good kid, just not cut out for this life. He did not have the stomach. He was no rat, though. Never said shit to anyone, and he knew a lot about my operations. Fucking Gina tried to have him killed, and I took her privileges away from her over that. Let him go, I said. Forget him, I said. Ten years, he kept his secrets and mine, and then she goes and kidnaps him?” He paced away from the crypt, running his hand through his hair in frustration. “She couldn’t leave well enough alone, could she? Fuck.”

Cut let the silence stand for a few minutes. “Like I said, I did some digging. The girl is Kyrie St. Claire. An American, from Detroit. The other guy, the one who helped her take Roth out of Oia…his name is Nicholas Harris. Former Army Ranger. Highly decorated. Works for Roth.”

He nodded. “Good work.” They strode across the cemetery and got into a waiting car, a black Maybach. “Any idea where they are now?”

Cut shook his head. “Not exactly. There was a super yacht sold in Marseilles, the kind of thing only a few men in the world can afford. It was bought with cash, false names on the paperwork. It sailed out of Marseilles almost a week ago. They could be anywhere at this point. Somewhere in the Mediterranean, or out through the Bosporus and into the Atlantic. I have eyes out at the major ports, but it’ll take time to find them.”

“Make me a list of everyone connected to this. Everyone who has touched the lives of Roth and this St. Claire girl. Everyone.”

“What is the plan?”

A shrug. “I am not sure yet. I cannot let this stand. I will not. They killed thirty-three of my men. Destroyed one of my homes. Killed my daughter.” He pinched the bridge of his nose between a thumb and forefinger. “I should have reined her in, Cut. But I did not, could not, and now she has caused me this mess, and got herself killed in the process.”

“What about the deal with the Russians?”

“Finish it. We cannot back out now. But put a hold on things after that. I need time to figure out what I will do. Recruit new men. Good ones. No sloppy shit, you got it? They pay for their pussy. They keep their hands clean. No more messes.” He rubbed his face with both hands. “I did not want this. Roth was a good kid. I had a soft spot for him, you know? I kept tabs on him over the years. He did good for himself. Now? Now, because of my daughter’s mess, I have to do something I was hoping not to have to do.”

“I can take care of it for you, boss. You know I can keep it quiet.”

“No, Cut. I appreciate the thought, but no. I have to do this myself. Just get me the list of names.”

Cut nodded, and fell silent.

“This will not be pretty.” He said it low, more to himself than out loud.

Cut sighed. “Vengeance is never pretty, boss.”

“It’s not just vengeance, Cut. I have to punish him.” He idly traced a circle on his knee with his finger. “You do not cross Vitaly Karahalios.”

21

A PROMISE

VALENTINE

I stood at the window of our bedroom, looking out the moonlit sea, Cape Town in the distance. Behind me, Kyrie slept. She was on her stomach, the blanket draped across her ass, her back bare. Her hair had grown in over the last few weeks, covering the healing scars on her scalp.

Things were okay. We were both healing, inside and out.

A soft knock echoed at the base of the stairs. I grabbed my shorts off the floor, stepped into them, and met Alexei in the lounge. “What is it?” I asked.

“Sorry to bother you at this late hour, but this is something I think you would wish to see right away.” Alexei handed me a folded sheet of paper. “It comes from your man Robert, from New York.”

I unfolded the paper.

It was an explanation from Robert: This came in the mail yesterday, delivered via DHL to the midtown office. It was addressed to you personally. To Valentine Roth. There was no return address, no signature, no explanation, nothing. Just the document attached. I’ve had it assessed by a trusted forensics expert, but I don’t think we’ll get anything from it. What’s going on? ~RM

My blood froze in my veins.

The document was a handwritten list of names:

Nicholas Harris

Robert Middleton

Henri Desjardins

Layla Campari

Kyrie St. Claire

Calvin St. Claire

Katharine St. Claire

Albert Roth

Olivia Roth

Valentine Roth

Eliza Gutierrez

My heart thudded in my chest. I folded the paper into quarters. “Thank you, Alexei.”

He nodded, turned to go, and then stopped, glancing at me over his shoulder. “I am only a man who is good with guns. I do not know much of people, or fixing problems. I do not know much about you. But I do know a threat when I see one.”

“That’s exactly what this is, Alexei.”


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